IU football opened spring practice on Saturday and had a session open to the media on Tuesday.
Going into his seventh season as the head coach, Tom Allen has given spring updates twice over the last week.
Below are some of his more notable comments as Indiana turns the page with an overhauled roster and the 2023 opener less than six months away.
Spring practice runs through April 15 when the program will host an interactive tailgate with the fans.
UPDATES ON WILLIAMS, CAMPER AND BEDFORD
Three key Hoosiers suffered season-ending knee injuries at different stages of the 2022 season.
Quarterback Dexter Williams’ injury came in the final game of the year, wideout Cam Camper’s came in the middle of the season, and offensive tackle Matthew Bedford’s came in week one.
As you’d expect, all three are at different stages in their rehabs.
On Tuesday Allen said that while Williams is at practice, he is not cleared for anything on the field at this point, and it doesn’t sound like that will change anytime soon.
“It’s a long road for him, but the good news is he’s on schedule,” Allen said.
Williams is not expected to be back for week one of the 2023 season, according to Allen.
Camper, IU’s leading receiver a year ago, isn’t practicing either. But he’s further along and expected to be ready for week one when IU hosts Ohio State.
Bedford, a four-year starter at tackle, is not fully cleared. But he is involved in practice this spring.
“Matt’s actually out there and able to do some things,” Allen said.
Bedford should be good to go for the season opener.
Allen provided updates on two more Hoosiers who had offseason surgery that is impacting their spring.
Tight end James Bomba is not participating in spring practice right now. Linebacker Matt Hohlt will not go live this spring after postseason surgery, but he is able to do the reps, according to Allen.
A WIDE OPEN SPRING AT QUARTERBACK
We’ve seen it all when it comes to the quarterback competition at Indiana. From Michael Penix, Jr. being a lock to start in 2020, to two veterans competing in other recent years.
But this year has a bit of a different feel altogether, as IU has no one with meaningful experience in its quarterback room.
Tayven Jackson and Brendan Sorsby have attempted a grand total of 10 passes combined in their careers. They are joined by freshman Broc Lowry as the trio currently competing for the starting job against Ohio State in September.
“It makes it a very open evaluation process. Kind of a clean slate of everybody,” Allen said. “I like it from the standpoint that you kind of get to see who is gonna rise up.
“You get to see who the natural leaders are, and who is creative and able to make plays.”
It remains a possibility IU could add a quarterback before the season. The transfer portal opens back up for a couple weeks after spring practice.
LUCAS TO HAVE EXPANDED ROLE
One thing was certain in an uncertain 2022 season — more Jaylin Lucas was a good thing.
Indiana eased the freshman into the his initial season of college football, but by the time it was over Lucas led Indiana with 994 all-purpose yards and he was named a freshman All-American.
There will be no holding him back in 2023.
After seeing limited snaps as a running back and thriving as a kickoff returner, Allen said Lucas will be used in multiple ways as sophomore.
Lucas has been preparing for the last year to take over the team’s punt return duties, and he will also line up in the slot as a receiver in addition to continuing to return kicks and take snaps as a running back.
JONES TO OFFENSIVE LINE
Cooper Jones arrived at Indiana as a decorated in-state recruit from Valparaiso High School. He was rated the No. 21 strong-side defensive end nationally in the class of 2021 by Rivals.
Jones appeared in seven games as a defensive end in 2022. He has the size and athleticism to play at the Power Five level. But offseason discussions involving him and the staff led to a decision to move to the other side of the ball to accelerate the process.
“We feel like has the length and toughness we’re looking for and he was excited about that opportunity,” Allen said. “He wants to get out there on the field and be able to play.”
Now on the offensive line, Jones will now wear No. 78. He’s listed at 6-foot-6 and 297 pounds.
HANGING IT UP
Indiana has had two players who were eligible to return in 2023 decide to walk away from the game. And both were key contributors in 2022.
Defensive lineman Beau Robbins appeared in 24 games over four seasons in Bloomington, including 10 games with three starts in 2022. Robbins was a 4-star recruit out of Carmel, Ind.
Center Caleb Murphy played in 23 games over three seasons at IU. He made multiple position changes — from defensive line, to tight end to center. Murphy grew up near Bloomington. He was forced into duty in a win over Western Kentucky last season.
Both Robbins and Murphy have decided to focus on their professional careers outside of football.
“They are going to graduate here this spring,” Allen said. “Those guys have been awesome for us, great leaders on the team, and they’re ready to move on. I have a lot of respect for that and appreciate everything they’ve given to our program.”
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